declaration of war, and growing worry aboutdomestic instability, the Japanese cabinet (whosedecisions required unanimity) could not form aconsensus to accept the PotsdamDeclaration. Members of the Supreme WarCouncil—“the Big Six”—wanted the replyto Potsdam to include at least four conditions (e.g.,no occupation, voluntary disarmament); they werewilling to fight to the finish. The peace party,however, deftly maneuvered to break the stalemateby persuading a reluctant emperor to intervene. According to Hasegawa, Hirohito had become convinced that the preservation of the monarchy was at stake. Late in the evening of 9 August, the emperor and his advisers met in the bomb shelter of the Imperial Palace.Zenshiro Hoshina, a senior naval official, attended the conference and prepared a detailed account. With Prime Minister Suzuki presiding, each of the ministers had a chance to state his view directly to Hirohito. While Army Minister Anami tacitly threatened a coup (“civil war”), the emperor accepted the majority view that the reply to the Potsdam declaration should include only one condition not the four urged by “Big Six.” Nevertheless, the condition that Hirohito accepted was not the one that foreign minister Togo had brought to the conference. What was at stake was the definition of the kokutai(national policy). Togo’s proposal would have been generally consistent with a constitutional monarchy because it defined thekokutainarrowly as the emperor and the imperial household. What Hirohito accepted, however, was a proposal by the extreme nationalist Kiichiro Hiranuma which drew upon prevailing understandings of the kokutai: the “mythical notion” that the emperor was a living god. “This was the affirmation of the emperor’s theocratic powers, unencumbered by any law, based on Shinto gods in antiquity, and totally incompatible with a constitutional monarchy.” Thus, the Japanese response to the Potsdam declaration opposed “any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of his Majesty as a sovereign ruler.” This proved to be unacceptable to the Truman administration.Document 63: "Magic" – Far East Summary, War Department, Office of Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, no. 508, August 10, 1945Source: RG 457, Summaries of Intercepted Japanese Messages ("Magic" Far East Summary, March 20, 1942 – October 2, 1945), box 7, SRS 491-547More intercepted messages on the bombing of Hiroshima.An overview of the destruction of Hiroshima [undated, circa August-September 1945] (Photo from U.S. National Archives, RG 306-NT)
Documents 64 a-b: The First Japanese Offer Intercepteda."Magic" – Diplomatic Summary, War Department, Office of Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, No. 1233 – August 10, 1945, Top Secret Ultrab.Translation of intercepted Japanese messages, circa 10 August 10, 1945, Top Secret UltraSource: Record Group 457, Records of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service,"Magic" Diplomatic Summaries 1942-1945, box 18The first Japanese surrender offer was intercepted shortly before Tokyo broadcast it.